Writing in The Journal Record, OCPA Milton Friedman Distinguished Fellow Andy Spiropoulos writes that the lottery has not lived up to its billing, raking in just $65 million this fiscal year when supporters said it would regularly raise $150 million a year. More importantly, Spiropoulos continues, the lottery hurts those it's presumably intended to help and undermines the very character of Oklahomans:
A look at the yearly numbers makes the lottery’s failure even more obvious. Oklahomans were promised that the lottery would bring in $150 million a year for education. The opponents of the lottery, looking at the experience of other states, argued that we would be lucky if it brought in half that amount. The lottery, in fact, has never brought in even that much, and, after reaching a peak of a little more than $70 million a year, has fallen to about $65 million for this fiscal year, and is projected to drop below $60 billion for 2014. The verdict of the facts could not be clearer: The opponents of the lottery were right on all counts. ...
The time has come to abolish the lottery. Many, of course, will also argue that, while we perhaps should not have approved it, we can’t afford to lose the money now. Nonsense. This year’s state budget is about $6.8 billion. Half of that, or $3.4 billion, goes to education. The lottery revenue going to education, therefore, is only about 2 percent of the education budget. It should be relatively easy to make up the lost funding. In return, we will stand up for the principle that government ought not to exploit those too poor, desperate, or ill-informed to know they are wasting their money and instead should help foster the character of its citizens, not undermine it.
To read the full op-ed, please click here.